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A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of
La Grande Jatte
Artist Georges Seurat
Year 1884–1886
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 207.6 cm × 308 cm (81.7 in × 121.3 in)
Location Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Portrait of Félix Fénéon
Artist Paul Signac
Year 1890
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.5 cm × 92.5 cm (28.9 in × 36.4 in)
Location Museum of Modern Art, New York

Neo-impressionism is a term coined by a French art critic in 1886 to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat. Seurat’s greatest masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, marked the beginning of this movement when it appeared at an exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in Paris.[1]

Around this time, many painters were in search of new methods. Followers of neo-impressionism were drawn to modern urban scenes as well as landscapes and seashores. Science-based interpretation of lines and colours influenced neo-impressionists’ characterization of their own contemporary art.[2] Pointillism is often mentioned, because it was the dominant technique in the beginning of the movement.

The art critic Félix Fénéon first used the term neo-impressionism in an article he wrote for the Belgian journal L’art Moderne in 1886. With the term he wanted to show that the way Seurat painted was different from the ways painting was done in Impressionism. In total, the movement lasted about five years.


  1. Hutton, John G. 2004 . Neo-impressionism and the search for solid ground: art, science, and anarchism in fin-de-siecle France.. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-1823-0 .
  2. Lee, Ellen W. & Smith, Tracy E. 1983. The aura of Neo-impressionism: the W.J. Holliday Collection. Edelstein, Debra ed. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-936260-04-1